Euphorbia quadrangularis


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Euphorbia quadrangularis is native to Eastern Africa: in particular, it is widespread in Tanzania, where it thrives in rocky and sandy substrates. It grows in slopes and flats in woodlands, in a wide range of altitudes: from 500-600 to around 1700 meters above the sea level.


Euphorbia quadrangularis is a sparsely branched shrub that can grow up to 3.5 meters tall. Its branches spread at right angles from the main stem and feature square and spiny stems with beautiful variegation. The stems are succulent, leafless, about 2 centimeters wide, and have four angles that are much compressed. They are also glaucous variegated with a greyish-green color and have teeth that are 2 millimeters or less long and broadly deltoid. The leaves of this plant are rudimentary, ovate, acute, and soon deciduous, measuring about 6-10 millimeters long. The spines are 2-5 millimeters long, dark grey, and slender, present in pairs 10-15 millimeters apart, and diverging. They are on narrow, horny grey shields that decurrent in an acute point nearly or quite to the flowering eyes below, thus forming a narrow horny margin that is 1-1.5 millimeters broad to the stem-angles. The flowering eyes are located about 4 mm above the spine-pairs, and the Cymes are sessile or subsessile. The cyathia flowers are almost 1 centimeter in diameter, and the involucre is obconic-cup-shaped, measuring 6 millimeters in diameter with a dark purple crinkled or undulating rim. The involucre is formed of five broad transverse entire glands and surrounded by five broad transverse denticulate purple lobes. The bracts are scale-like and thin, measuring half as long as the involucre. The ovary is included in the involucre, subsessile, with the calyx reduced to a mere rim, and glabrous. The styles are about 3 millimeters long and slender, united at the base and then ascending and revolute at the tips, with slightly thickened entire stigmas.


Although challenging to cultivate, the beauty of Euphorbia quadrangularis makes it all worthwhile. Adequate sunlight exposure and well-drained soil are essential for its survival, with a minimum temperature requirement of 15ºC. Younger plants can be nurtured indoors, using non-organic compounds to facilitate growth. Regular watering during the growing season, coupled with proper drainage, is necessary. However, in winter, the plant should remain mostly dry. The Euphorbia quadrangularis has rapid growth, becoming an attractive landscape feature in a decade. It is important to plant it in a location that is sheltered from strong winds. Once established, it is comfortable in its environment and can tolerate moderate shade. Repotting in smaller pots during late winter/spring is advisable. This plant is only suitable for frost-free zones.


In the late spring to summer, propagation through cuttings is effortless. Simply obtain a plant cutting, allow it to desiccate for a duration of 1-2 weeks, then insert it into the ground. It is best to choose a dry, loose, and highly permeable soil for optimum results.


The latex of Euphorbias is irritating and can cause reactions and burns. Although, it has been traditionally used to heal chest and rib pain, along with backache. The term Euphorbia originated from Euphorbos, the Greek doctor serving as the physician to King Juba II of Numidia and Mauretania (52–50 BC – 23 AD), who tied the knot with Anthony and Cleopatra’s daughter.

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